As if we need another paid leave! Well get ready, legislation is being introduced in both houses that would guarantee paid sick leave for employees infected by the H1N1 virus or other “flu like illnesses,” where the employee works for a business with at least 15 employees. The legislation is being considered on an emergency basis and if passed as such would take effect 15 days after being signed into law! The good news is the bill, if passed, would be a temporary measure designed principally to combat the H1N1 virus and the leave provisions would automatically expire after two years (yeah, right and if the virus is still around???).
By the way, Senator Chris Dodd, is the key sponsor of the bill in the Senate. It is his stated belief that “families should not have to choose between staying healthy and making ends meet.” The bill, if passed, would allow individuals with the H1N1 flu to stay at home instead of coming to work, while sick, and will make it easier for parents to care for children who must stay home to due to the flu or school and childcare closings. The provisions of the bill would allow employees to earn up to SEVEN PAID sick days to use for:
1. The care for a child who is sick with H1N1 virus or “flu like symptoms;”
2. To care for a child whose school or child care facility is closed because of the spread of contagious illness;
3. Their own issues related to their personal flu like symptoms or care.
The House bill is being referred to as the Emergency Influenza Containment Act and is much better for employers. It is being introduced by California Congress members George Miller and Lynn Woolsey, and limits the leave to 5 days, provides that the leave will only be paid if the employer requires the employee to stay home, and provides for leave only for the employee’s own illness.
Neither of the two bills appears to address paid sick days already being provided by employers. In addition, my concern is that employees may abuse the new bill because the provision includes “flu like symptoms.” Look, we can all agree that employers and employees do not want individuals coming to work that are ill but I do not see the necessity of creating another paid leave when employees already have options such as paid sick days, vacation days, and personal time off (PTO). Once a law is created, although stated to be temporary, it will become a permanent benefit.
I will keep you posted on this one.